Disaster Preparedness for People with Visual Disabilities

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From fires to hurricanes, tornados to flooding, natural disasters have the potential to affect all Americans, including those with disabilities. When a disaster strikes, there is little time for planning. So, the time to prepare is today.

Disaster preparedness starts by understanding and prioritizing your needs and resources, purchasing waterproof bags and bins, and creating kits to meet your specific needs. However, for people with disabilities, disaster preparedness requires additional planning and actions.

Braille and large print Evidence of Coverage documents on a counter top with a first aid kit and a white cane.

Steps to Take Before an Emergency

  • Contact your local city or county emergency services department to register for a priority needs list.
  • Check and see if Smart 9-1-1 or a similar service is available in your area.
  • Become educated on the services and resources that are available through various agencies. The Red Cross and FEMA joined forces to create an informative guide that may help.
  • Register with your utility company for placement on the emergency restorative services list.
  • Have a backup plan both locally and out of town, if possible.
  • Create a relevant contact list of friends, relatives, and neighbors. The contact list should be readily accessible and in a format that others can read.
  • Obtain bank statements, health records, insurance documents, and other valuable information in an accessible format. By law, you’re entitled to these documents from businesses and providers upon request.
  • If audio is your preferred accessible format, have a battery-powered device that will play your audio files, as you could be without power. A handheld, battery-operated audio mp3/mp4 device or audio recorder works well.
  • Label all emergency items with Braille or large print for easy identification.
  • Follow the recommendations from the Red Cross, CDC, and FEMA for people with disabilities.
  • If you have a service animal, be sure to have duplicates of all their documents, shot records, and supplies.
  • Create a survival and first aid kit. Make sure the items in the kits are up to date.
  • Place your preferred note-taking materials in your kit. This may include a slate, stylus, and paper; or a pen, notepad, and handheld magnifier.
  • Learn where the closest emergency shelters are and have a plan to get there.
  • When disaster conditions are approaching, remain informed, be diligent, and evacuate as soon as the opportunity is offered.

Close-up view of a computer keyboard with a yellow key displaying the words Time For Action.

The Time is Now

Emergencies can be stressful, but with proper planning and action, you can have peace of mind and security. The more disaster preparedness you do, the greater independence and control you will have in uncertain times.

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This post was written by Braille Works

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